Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Thank you! During the early days of my career—before I got published—I found myself naturally creating a new magic system for each book I wrote. I'm not sure why I did this. I just found the process too involving, too interesting, to stop.
For Mistborn, I came to the book wanting several things. I wanted a great magic system that would enhance the graceful, martial-arts style fights. This was going to be a series of sneaking thieves, assassins, and night-time exploration. And so I developed the powers with a focus on that idea. What would make the thieving crew better at what they did? I based each power around an archetype of a thieving crew. The Thug, the Sneak, the Fast-talker, etc.
At the same time, I wanted to enhance the 'industrial revolution' feel of the novels through the magic system. I wanted something that felt like an industrial-age science, something that was a good hybrid of science and magic. I found myself drawn to Alchemy and its use of metals, then extrapolated from that to a way to release power locked inside of metal. Metabolism grew out of that. It felt natural. We metabolize food for energy; letting Allomancers metabolize metal had just the right blend of science and magic.
For Warbreaker, I was looking back a little further, shooting for a more Renaissance-era feel. And so, I extrapolated from the early beliefs that similarities created bonds. In other words, you could affect an object (in this case, bring an object to life) by creating a bond between it and yourself, letting it take on a semblance of your own life.
Moving beyond that was the idea of color as life. When a person dies, their color drains from them. The same happens when plants die. Vibrant color is a sign of life itself, and so I worked with this metaphor and the concept of Breath as life to develop the magic. In this case, I wanted magical powers that would work better 'in' society, meaning things that would enhance regular daily lives. Magical servants and soldiers, animated through arcane powers, worked better for this world than something more strictly fighting-based, like in Mistborn.
I confirmed in the Warbreaker annotations that Clod is Arsteel.
Clod is more self-aware than most Lifeless. There is something left of Arsteel within Clod. The Breaths that Vasher gave him when he killed him do have an effect on this.
Is there a Cosmere-specific term you use to describe, say, a Shard's power inside someone? For example, people on Scadrial had little bits of Preservation in them that made them sentient (and, with enough Preservation, Allomancy). This obviously doesn't make these people Slivers or Splinters, so I was just wondering if you had a word for it.
In my own terms, I refer to all of this as types of investiture. The degree, and effects, can be very different - but those people are invested. I term this Innate Investiture, and it is similar to what happens with people on Nalthis. That is also innate.
What would life on Nalthis be like for someone with synesthesia?
Synesthesia on Nalthis isn't something he's considered, but it would probably be about the same unless you had a lot of Breath, at which point things would get weird.
Do Breaths inherently possess the ability to interpret and carry out commands, or does the Awakener need to impart that decision making ability on Awakened objects?
If the Awakener does need to impart the decision-making ability, then does Awakening consist of an Awakener copying a portion of his/her Cognitive aspect (as determined by his/her visualization and verbal Command) onto the Cognitive aspect of the object being Awakened, with Breath then providing the "juice" for the object to actually follow its Command: powering both physical motion and "cogitation" based upon the copied Cognitive aspect?
-If so, is that copying what drains color?
Is the risk of Vasher dying from wielding Nightblood unsheathed too long because Nightblood would consume his divine Breath or does that also extend to those who are not Returned?
Yes, and yes, it does apply to others.
Can you hide Breath… Yes you can hide Breath in things.
Metal in particular, without the Eighth Heightening.
I would say yes you could.
So, like metal inside a person’s body?
It depends on how strong the investiture in them is.
Is that going to be the answer for all of these?
How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy? Not in a person.
Not in a person? It depends on how strong—yeah. A spike is moderately—in the realm of these sorts of things—moderately easy to push on, because a spike does not rip off very much investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and it loses that over time. So I would put that at the bottom—with the top being very hard—to be one of the easier things.
How about a metalmind? A feruchemy metalmind that is "full."
That is going to be middle of the realm. Generally easier than, for instance, a shardblade, which is going to be very hard.
But a shardblade isn’t actual metal. Ish?
Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.
So would that be the same for Shardplate, too?
Shardplate and blade are very hard. Blade is probably going to be harder. [...]
Halfshard? Like a halfshard shield?
Halfshard shield is going to be in moderate.
Nightblood? I imagine is going to be very difficult.
Very hard. Of all the things you’ve listed, he’s the hardest. Far beyond even a shardblade.
Far beyond metal inside a person?
Yes, depending on how invested the person is.
If someone was invested as much as Nightblood I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very difficult.
Yes, for instance, the Godking, at the end, with all of those Breaths. Pushing on something inside of him? Getting through all that? Gonna be REAL hard. Average person on Scadrial? You’ve seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.
That was actually going to be my next one- No, sorry, not a drab, a Lifeless.
A Lifeless. Lifeless are kinda weird, because they’ve had their soul leave, but then they’ve had a replacement stuck in, in the form of Breath, which puts them in a really weird position compared to a Drab, which has had part of their investiture ripped away, but the majority of it remains. So anyway, I’m going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.
Okay, a soul-stamped piece of metal.
A soul-stamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of investiture going on in a soulstamp.
Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.
And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?
Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so < sounds hesitant > "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.
So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak? [Note: Talking of Susebron here]
You are... < LONG pause > You are, um, on the right track.
Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of deity, right?
And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?
And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.
But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself—
Yes, yes yes exactly.
"If a native of Sel or another Shardworld travelled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?"
Brandon almost answered quickly, but then got a thoughtful look and paused to consider with a "hmm." After a moment, he replied:
"No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their breath."
"If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?"
"No, they cannot Return."
"If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?"
I was probably grinning like a looby at this point, but I didn't care. Brandon complimented me on my questions, saying that I had asked some good ones and that nobody had gotten so much information out of him in a while. I don't know whether he meant it, or was just trying to give me some confidence and make me feel good about myself as an amateur realmatic theorist (very, very amateur), but either way it made me feel like a million bucks.
Brandon’s good at that. I’m consistently amazed by his positive attitude, and just how much attention he lavishes on his fans.
Can Breath be used to power Surgebinding?
They are very similar Investitures, and most of the magics can be powered with the other magics if you are capable of making that happen.
What would happen to the Breath?
The Breath would be consumed in the same way that Stormlight is. A renewing resource, much like Atium is.
They would, um... they are in the middle of a transformation. I would say that yes they could be, but you're going to get like a stutter is what I'd guess you would get, it's like you would get a... a flashing.
Because they're kind of alive, and kind of not alive.
Yeah. And so, yeah, you'd just get a flashing sort of.... something.
It has to rip off a piece of their soul. That normally results in death.
Because I'm thinking you're going a bit into the future, surgery, precise things like that...
It's plausible but-- I mean it would leave the person like-- It's ripping off a piece of their soul. But the same thing happens when you give up your Breath. So you're giving up a piece of your soul. There are-- It's plausible you could take off pieces of a soul without killing the person.
I have a ratio. It's not on me.
Okay, that's a Peter question again.
Yeah, well, I may not answer it even then.
It would suck the Breath from anybody, and if they were unable to feed it he would feed on their soul.
So they would die.
Yes. Anybody wielding Nightblood, he will suck their soul. For too long, he will eventually, if you draw him, he will suck your soul.
So we’re not Drabs?
So we’re not Drabs. That’s exactly it. We’re not Drabs.
Would the Scadrian be able to use it.
Yes. You have seen people from off-planet who have Breath before.
Or… perfect pitch?
Yes. [laughter] And are making use of it in variety of ways.
Think about breathing
That would be fine